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Home checks still needed in quake-hit region, ICNZ says

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The Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) has warned property buyers in earthquake-affected Christchurch and surrounding areas to check carefully before buying homes.

The New Zealand Government last week said it would make special payments to homeowners in the region who bought properties which they later found required expensive quake-related repairs that fell outside insurance options.

“The fact the Government is making ex-gratia payments to repair on-sold properties should not be seen as a green light to buy houses without due care,” ICNZ CEO Tim Grafton said.

“Insurers will always expect properties to be properly repaired before taking on the risks of insuring them.”

The Government estimates 1000 homes could qualify for the payments. Repair costs could total about $NZ300 million ($285 million), to be paid through the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

The EQC has in the past paid for earthquake repairs up to $NZ100,000 ($95,045), with costs above that level covered by homeowners’ private insurance.

But disputes have arisen where a property had repairs completed below the cap, but later problems pushed the costs above the threshold, while insurance arrangements had changed because of a sale.

“This new policy will hopefully create certainty for homeowners and avoid the delays, stress and significant cost associated with court proceedings,” EQC CEO Sid Miller said.

Homeowners have 12 months to register their interest for the payment and anyone buying a house after last Thursday’s announcement is ineligible.